May 19, 2024

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Philosophy Book Review – Alan Turing, The Philosopher

Most intelligent and well read folks know who Alan Turing was, as he is historically significant. He helped crack the Enigma Code that the Germans were using in WWII. He also is known for his work in computer science, because he was one of the first thinkers leading up to the invention of the computer as we know it. But it you really think about it, Alan Turing was a thinker, not just a mathematician. He was ahead of his time, living in the wrong era.

For humanity maybe that is a good thing, because he was needed in his period, as much as we need people like him today. Still, the reality is that this thinker was really a great philosopher, and to illustrate this point, I’d like to recommend a very good book to you. It’s an easy read, and just over 50 pages:

“Turing” by Andrew Hodges; this work is part of the Great Philosophers Series; Routledge Publishing; (1999). ISBN: 978-0415923781

Alan Turing challenges us, on the question of What is intelligence? And asks, is there anything about humans that is different or better than a correctly programmed high powered computational device? What if we put an interviewer behind a curtain and he is asking questions to a human and a computer? What if the well programmed computer fools the interviewer and he does not know if he is talking to a computer or a human?

If a computer can do everything a human can do, then what is the difference? If a human being and human brain can solve problems, and give identical answers or solutions, then is the computer not intelligent also? Why discriminate between the two? This may bother many people who are human-centric thinking, but Alan Turing challenges us and delivers his philosophy like a brick through the perceived window of human reality. Think on this.